First Day of My Life
by Hayley

Chapter Eight

Faith walked into her motel room and practically collapsed on the bed once she closed the door.

It had been a very long night and a long week if Faith was being honest with herself. She'd been out every night from sunset to sunrise tracking a group of vampires that seemed to disappear whenever she got close. It was draining and all Faith could think about was sleeping.

She'd been in Reno, Nevada for three weeks and most of that time she'd been sleeping the days away. The city had more supernatural happenings than any of the other cities she'd been to since she'd left Cleveland and that left her exhausted. Faith wondered why there wasn't a slayer stationed in the city but then again, Buffy told her Vegas had problems as well and since those problems tended to be more public they had a slayer there instead.

One month had passed since Buffy had visited her in Houston. Faith had stayed in Texas for one more week, traveling as far south as the Mexican border before driving north again. She'd taken out several vampires during that time but nothing was serious enough for her to actually stay in a city for more than a day or two.

Then there was Reno and there seemed to be an abundance of scummy people and supernatural beings alike who tried to take advantage or attack others. The first night Faith was in the city she'd gone to a bar not far from her motel to get a drink and relax when she got involved in a fight. What surprised her was that it only involved humans, something that hadn't happened since she was in LA prior to turning herself in. Knowing that she couldn't afford to get arrested or even questioned by the police, Faith tried her best to just break up the fight before getting out of the bar as fast as possible.

That wasn't the only all human fight in Reno but after the first one she was careful about getting too close. Mostly, she simply left, wanting to help but knowing she should let the police handle it and focus on fighting what law enforcement could not.

After a few days in the city, walking during the day and moving through trouble areas at night, Faith figured out most of the problems stemmed from a group of six vampires that seemed to control the city. They knew of every vampire and demon within the city limits and made sure they only caused trouble they themselves approved of. Anything that crossed them was disposed of.

Faith had only come across the group once and the leader wasn't with them. She found out his name was Jackson and with the rest of the group, he'd been in control for at least 20 years. They never stayed in one place in the city either, making them hard for Faith to track down. It was becoming frustrating for her.

The part that frustrated her most was that the one time she actually found four of the six and confronted them, they hadn't fought. Instead, they ran and scattered, making sure that Faith couldn't catch them together again. After that, it seemed that the group made sure that they were wherever Faith wasn't. She hadn't seen them since but was jumped four times during her nightly patrols since the encounter. She knew that was their doing.

Sleep came easily after another long night but soon her cell phone rang, waking her up with a groan. She looked at the clock by the bed and realized while she had been asleep for three hours, it felt like she was only asleep for a few minutes.

She grabbed the phone and flipped it open. "Yeah?"

"I thought we'd gone over how you should actually answer your phone."

Faith smiled and sat up on the bed, moving so her back rested against the headboard. ""Kinda woke me up, B. I can get a little cranky in the morning. Can't be held responsible for my actions."

"But it's . . ." Buffy stopped, as if she was doing the time zone math in her head, "shit, sorry. Keep forgetting the difference."

"It's okay." Faith didn't want Buffy to think she should think twice before calling. "Just didn't get in until sunrise is all."

"Again? Did you have any luck this time?"

"No, and it's getting pretty fucking frustrating." Faith let out a sigh. "Every time I think I'm getting close it's like they know and move."

There was a silence between them for a minute and Faith patiently waited for Buffy to say something. The other slayer had been giving her tips over the last couple days that had proved helpful to a point. She had been able to find some of the lackeys with the help but still wasn't having any luck with what she wanted. The lackeys didn't lead her to the group.

"I can talk to Willow and see what she can come up with. Maybe she has an idea."

"I don't know, B. If they're cloaking or something won't they also have a witch on the payroll?"

"Probably but no one is as powerful as Willow." Buffy paused. "Do you want to get anyone else involved or you do want to keep going on trying to find their headquarters by yourself?"

Faith thought about that for a minute. She desperately wanted to take down the vamps on her own and then move on to another city but she knew that choosing that option might cause her to stay in Reno much longer than she wanted. Of all the places she had been in the few months she'd been out, Reno was the last choice for a permanent location.

She wanted to trust in Buffy's offer. Since they'd spent a day together they talked almost every day. Most times they only talked about Faith's patrol the previous night or the goings on at headquarters that caused many a headache for Buffy but that wasn't all they talked about. Very slowly they shared little things about themselves, likes and dislikes. They didn't talk about anything serious but Faith found she looked forward to talking with the other slayer.

"Faith? Didn't fall asleep on me, did you?"

"No," Faith said quickly, chuckling quietly, "I'm still here. Just thinking."

"Well, what do you think? I could just see what Will thinks and call you back later. That way you can get some more sleep and we can talk a little without me thinking you've nodded off on me."

Faith laughed. "Sure, B. Let me know what Willow thinks. Anything to get rid of these assholes and get me out of this city."

"Okay," Buffy agreed, laughing along with Faith, "I'll see what she says and I'll call you later. Get some sleep."

"Later," was all Faith said before shutting the phone and moving so her head was on a pillow once again.

It was less than a minute before Faith was asleep.

Waking up at two in the afternoon wasn't exactly ideal but Faith was happy to have the time to sleep. The only thing that woke her up was her stomach growling. She had to think about when the last time she ate was and realized it had been over 24 hours ago. She'd fallen asleep before she eaten when she'd got in hours ago and she had been too caught up in tracking the night before to find a place to eat.

She got up and rummaged around in her bag, finally finding a candy bar in one of the pockets and ate it quickly. After that she took a shower and changed into some clean clothes, making Faith realize she would need to do some laundry soon, too. She made a mental note to talk to the person at the front desk to find out where the closest Laundromat was.

Turning on the TV, Faith found some cheesy daytime show to watch while she looked over a map of Reno, marking down where she'd been the previous night. The map was already marked up and Faith felt like she'd traveled almost the entire city in the three weeks she'd been there. Each time she thought she had a lead she had marked the map but every lead went nowhere and the map was full of marked leads.

Frustrated by looking at the map, Faith grabbed her jacket and keys and walked out of the room, making her way out of the motel. There was a fast food restaurant a block away from where she was staying and the need for some actual food was too great.

Faith walked there and ordered quickly, taking her food to a table and digging in without a second thought. She knew she ordered more than what most people would but it had been a day since a meal and she really didn't care how it looked.

"You Faith?"

She looked up from her burger and noticed a man standing next to her booth, looking very much like a homeless man. He had pale skin that was most hidden by a full beard and dark, messy hair. Most of his body was covered in a dirty overcoat and Faith tried to figure out how he knew her. She wasn't getting the tingle that a vampire caused and it was sunny out so he had to be something else.

"Who wants to know?"

He sat down across from her without asking if it was okay to do so. "A friend of mine has been keeping track of you while you're here."

"No offense, buddy, but it doesn't look like you have any friends," Faith remarked, a little annoyed someone was interrupting her meal.

The man ignored her comment. "We know you're looking for Jackson but you're going about it all wrong."

Faith leaned back against the hard back of the booth. "Is that so?"

"You're going off of the words of things that work for Jackson," he said. "They lead you in the wrong direction because they feel without help you'll never be a threat."

"Really?" Faith smiled a little at the comment. She thought this was probably a sign that she needed the little extra help Buffy had offered. "I think I do okay on my own."

He shook his head. "You'll fail if you keep going off of what those desperate demons tell you."

"And what are you?"

"A messenger," he answered and stood up, dropping a piece of paper on the table as he did. "Once you come to your senses, call that number. My friend feels having a slayer on our side would be beneficial."

Faith raised an eyebrow. "You go ahead and tell your 'friend' that I don't work for anyone."

The man only looked at her, giving her a hard stare with his blue eyes, before walking out of the restaurant. Faith stared at the door for a few seconds before turning away from it and looking back at her food, wanting to eat again before anything got too cold.

She thought about what the man had said and she had to admit he was partially correct. As much as she wanted to work on her own and not have help for anyone, thinking it was better to redeem herself that way, that might not be a good plan here.

Faith remembered back to the first morning she had out of prison. All she had wanted to do was get out of Cleveland and find her own way. She didn't want any help and definitely didn't want to stay and take orders. That seemed like the wrong option for her and Faith wanted nothing more than to prove she could do some good without someone telling her that's what she should be doing.

Then Xander pointed out something that she still thought about. He had told her that part of her changing would be asking for help because that wasn't in her nature before. She hated when he said it because she knew he was right but at the time she didn't want to admit it.

Now it was different. She was getting along with Buffy and part of her, the less cautious and defensive part, wanted to think of her as a friend. It felt easier to take the help she offered.

She finished eating quickly, throwing before her wrappers and the offered number away, and started her walk back to the motel, wondering when Buffy would call her back.

"Hey, B, get any info?" Faith asked when Buffy called her back an hour later.

"Yeah, I did," Buffy answered. "First, I found out that you're having a heat wave right now and I don't know if I have the clothes for it."

It took a second for Faith to realize what Buffy was saying but couldn't help but smile once she did. "What do you mean by that, B?"

"What I mean is Will looked into the situation and the reason you can't find this group is because they're being cloaked by a very powerful witch but not one as powerful as Willow. If we go there and she does a simple but powerful location spell she thinks we'll be able to find them and take them out."

"So you're coming here?"

"Is that okay?" Buffy asked and Faith thought she sounded a little nervous. "I mean, we'll probably be able to take the group down in one night if Will and I transport there and she does her thing."

Faith was suddenly a little apprehensive. She was okay with Buffy visiting her, especially since she enjoyed being around her the last time, but adding Willow into the mix was completely different. It felt like something she needed to do though. She needed to learn that getting help was okay.

"Yeah, B," Faith said quietly. "That's okay."

"Great!" Buffy said and Faith could tell there was some excitement in her voice. "I figure Willow can do the spell and be backup if we need it but then she'll need to get back. Maybe I can stick around an extra day."

The nervousness in Buffy's voice was back again and Faith smiled. It was hard to believe she would make Buffy nervous at all. "That sounds cool, B."

"Okay, give us a half hour and we'll be there. We'll probably transport right into your room so no one outside sees us suddenly appear so, you know, you'll wanna be fully clothed and everything."

"No promises, B," Faith said, laughing as she did.

"See you in a little while," Buffy said and she disconnected.

Faith did something she never thought she'd do while she waited for Buffy and Willow to arrive: she straightened up the room.

Normally, Faith had clothes and her weapons strewn throughout the room while she stayed in a city. She wasn't the neatest person in the world and since she was alone, she didn't feel the need to be. It felt nice to have the space to be messy if she wanted.

In prison she wasn't messy. She had a cellmate and she didn't keep anything in the cell that wasn't necessary. Faith was strong and even though she didn't show it, she had a reputation that she shouldn't be messed with. Even with that, she didn't want to risk having possessions around that other inmates could steal. The only thing she kept in her cell that wasn't necessary was whatever book she was reading.

That was one thing she wished she had a little more time for. She'd been so busy she stopped doing the one thing she discovered she enjoyed when she was in prison. The two books she'd purchased in Cincinnati all those weeks ago remained untouched.

"Hey, Faith."

Faith jumped and turned around to see Buffy and Willow standing by the door, both of them laughing quietly. Each of them had a bag but Willow's looked more like a supply bag than what Buffy took off her shoulder and set down near the door.

"Sorry," Buffy said as she walked up to Faith. "Kind of easy to make you jump when we just appear and your back's turned. Couldn't resist."

She reached out and gave Faith a hug, something that she semi-awkwardly returned. Faith dared to take a quick look at Willow and the other woman didn't appear surprised which made her wonder what Buffy had said about her last visit.

Buffy moved away and smiled. "So Will brought everything she thinks we'll need to locate this group."

Willow smiled nervously. "Hi, Faith." When Faith smiled and nodded a greeting she spoke up again. "I have to override whatever's keeping them protected right now and after that a simple location spell is all we'll need."

"You'll be able to override it?" Faith asked.

"I tested the waters a little in Cleveland," Willow said as she set her bag on the bed and began taking out ingredients. "Whoever protects them is powerful but while they're cloaking the group they're not cloaking themselves."

"So you can take out the witch helping them?" Faith leaned against the dresser as Buffy stood beside her. "You're making this sound a little too easy."

"Oh, it's not easy but I can do it."

Buffy turned to Faith and smiled. "We'll have to be fast once Willow binds the witch protecting them and finds the group. They'll probably notice that they're not protected and will try to find a fix that problem as quickly as possible."

"I know the city pretty well by now," Faith commented as she watched Willow organize. "It feels like I've walked every street trying to find these vamps."

"Great, then you'll know where to go."

They were running.

Faith and Buffy had been running for at least four blocks and they could still feel the anger of the vamps behind them, could still hear their shouts.

Willow was right and it didn't take long for her to locate the witch who was protecting the vamps in control of the city. The only snag in her plan was the woman was too powerful for her to bind from a distance so they had to travel to where she was, only about a mile from the motel where Faith was staying. The witch wasn't expecting them so she didn't have a chance to respond to Willow's power and binding her was a fairly simple matter.

It didn't surprise Faith to find out that the six vampires were running their current affairs out of a casino since there were quite a few of them and most people didn't seem aware of their surroundings while they gambled. She figured it must be easy for them to get whatever they wanted with that location or if they were located in any of the casinos in Reno.

They didn't have a plan when they went to the casino in question other than to find them and stake them. Willow had made sure the group stayed unprotected but stayed behind at the motel while the two slayers traveled into downtown Reno. Binding the witch had taken enough power that Buffy feared her best friend might be wiped out during the fight and they wouldn't be able to protect her.

What Willow left them with was a small ball that would glow when they came across one of the six in the casino. Faith knew what four of them looked like but not the other and not the leader. She was afraid of missing one of them and that wasn't acceptable.

"Faith, this way!"

The two of them ran out of an alley, jumped a fence and moved quickly out onto a busy street. There were still vamps chasing them though and they weren't stopping quite yet.

The first two of the six had been easy. They were drunk and the two slayers followed them into a bathroom where they were able to stake them easily. Buffy made a joke that maybe the rest of them would be that simple as well but that hadn't been the case.

Following the glow of the ball in Faith's hand, they ended up at a private room away from all the gamblers and guarded by a couple of huge vamps. Buffy and Faith pretended to be a pair of drunk girls looking for a bathroom and quickly staked the guards, busting into the room a moment later.

The room was full of vamps but as Willow had promised, the four they needed to stake seemed to have a dull green glow around them that matched the color of the ball. That was the four they moved for and they managed to stake all four of them in a matter of minutes, which surprised Faith. It seemed that the group had others do their dirty work for so long that whatever fighting or defensive skills they might once have had seemed to no longer be present.

Of course, the aftermath of staking all six vampires that led all the underhand dealings was what the two slayers had to deal with now. They had run once they staked who they needed to since there were too many vampires still in the room and rushing to get to the room when they discovered their leaders were in trouble.

Faith looked back and saw there were still five vampires chasing them. What was worse was the turn Buffy had had them take was leading them further away from the car.

"B, we have to get back to the car!"

Buffy looked at her then glanced back to the vamps while dodging people along the sidewalk. "There's only five now. I have an idea."

There wasn't any time to agree or disagree so Faith only followed as Buffy picked up a little speed. She had a point with the number following them though in that there had been well over a dozen to begin with. Five was a number they could work with.

Buffy quickly rounded a corner that led to deserted alley. Faith followed and felt Buffy take her arm and pull her against the wall next to her. Both of them caught their breath for a couple seconds as they looked at each other.

"Still have your stake?"

Faith nodded. "Got two of them. You?"

"Yep, still got mine and a knife just in case," Buffy said. "Let's catch them off guard and finish this."

"Read my mind, B."

Both of them waited by the opening and as soon as the group passed by the alley, slowing so they could look for the pair, they each grabbed one and staked them effortlessly. The other three followed but were more prepared. One took a quick slash at Faith with a knife, cutting her arm.

"Damn it," Faith grunted angrily as she punched him in the face in response.

The other two went for Buffy, who went on the defensive quickly, using her skills to keep them off guard more than to gain the upper hand. The two landed a couple blows from what Faith could hear though and she hoped they hadn't caused any damage.

"This is bullshit, Faith," she yelled out.

Faith dodged a kick then threw a punch the vamp blocked a little too easily. "Why's that, B?"

"Two went for me and you only have to deal with one? Not fair."

"I'll help you out in a second, princess."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that, slayer," the vampire fighting her said as he dodged another kick.

"Stop talking," Faith said angrily as her fist connected with his nose, causing him to cry out in pain.

The vamp took another slash at her and once again Faith wasn't quite quick enough as he sliced at her abdomen and cut her shirt. She swore out at the action but didn't look down, knowing that would be a mistake. Instead, she kicked him as hard as she could, slamming him against the wall. The action left the vampire disoriented and Faith used it to her advantage, staking him without a second thought.

She turned and noticed Buffy had already staked one of the vampires and was trying to finish off the other. Faith furrowed her brow as she noticed the other slayer had a cut above her left eye and figured one of the vamps was probably wearing rings to cause that kind of cut. She hoped that was the only injury she'd suffered.

Buffy finally had an opening and staked the vamp, moving away as to not get any of the dust on her. "That was more trouble than I wanted tonight. You sure know how to show a girl a good time, Faith."

Faith grinned, showing off her dimples. "Hey, no night with me is boring." She walked up to her and carefully touched at the cut. "You're bleeding, B. Any other injuries?"

"I'll probably have a killer bruise on my left side," Buffy answered, a smile turning into a frown as she looked Faith over. "But you're bleeding more than I am. Are you okay?"

Faith looked down and saw that the knife had cut her but it didn't look too terrible, not enough for stitches anyway. She saw Buffy's hands examine the wound closely and smiled at how careful she was being. "It's not bad, Buffy. Just gotta get cleaned up."

She looked up and stared into Buffy's eyes. There was so much concern for her in them and Faith knew that her own eyes looked the same. They smiled at each other and there didn't seem to be anything Faith could think of to say. That seemed to be the case for Buffy as well but instead of backing away or suggesting they get back to the motel, she leaned in and gave Faith a soft, gentle kiss.

Her muscles tried to freeze at the action but Faith wouldn't let them since she didn't want Buffy to stop. The action shocked her but at the same time her brain was telling her to respond so she did, moving her lips along with Buffy's until the other slayer broke away.

Buffy smiled at her and took her hand. "Come on, let's find the car and get back so we can get cleaned up."

Faith let herself be led out of the alley but she was thoroughly confused. She wanted to know why Buffy had just kissed her and more importantly, if she was planning on doing it again.

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